a few years back, i was having a conversation w/ kevin and he told me that the first thing he did to start off that year on the first of january was drop in on a full sized halfpipe. he wanted to start the year off w/ a bang and thought that it was important to do something really memorable and exceptional on the 1st day of the year. i always thought that was a really cool idea, and since then have tried to make my january firsts memorable. unfortunately, i dont think i really succeeded since no matter how hard i try today, i can’t seem to recall what i ever ended up doing. but this year would be different. we had initially planned to see the pyramids on our first day here, the 31st, but i asked everyone to hold off a day so that we could see the pyramids first thing on the 1st day of the year.
there are a few things on this planet that stand out in people’s minds so much that they become absolutely immense and larger than life. the pyramids of giza definitely fall into that category. in fact, i can’t really think of anything else that is such a well know and extraordinary site. the pyramids are one of the only remaining wonders of the ancient world, and even compared to any modern day wonder, they easily hold their own. you could probably show me any other structure.. and even if you told me it was older, larger, more intricate etc than the pyramids, i still dont think that it could top them. there’s just something about the pyramids. and because of all of this, when we woke up this morning, still tired and groggy from the night before… we couldn’t wait to set out.
the famous pyramids… the ones we all hear about, see in photos , etc are the ones at giza. but, there are actually a lot of pyramids (either 90 or 19… i couldnt understand our driver’s english) strewn about egypt. two pyramid sites saqquara and dashur are near giza, so we decided to go see those as well.. and to see those first and leave giza for the grand finale. we hired a taxi driver for the day and set out.
the first place we went to was saqquara. saqquara is where the first pyramid was built. the first one isnt exactly as smooth looking as the giza pyramids but instead is made of separate steps. as we pulled up in the parking lot and stepped out of the car, we could just make out the pyramid through the hazy smog. we couldn’t believe it. Pyramids!!! we wandered around saqquara for a bit and then hopped in the taxi to go to the next place.
our next stop was dashur. this place is really famous for 3 pyramids: the red pyramid, a huge pyrmaid that you are allowed to go inside; the bent pyramid, a pyramid where during building they changed the angle of it so now it looks bent; and the black pyramid… there’s something wrong w/ this pyramid. when we drove up to the red pyramid, it was *massive*. absolutely humongous. we scrambled up the side of it and then descended down this super long passage to get inside. this passage was really low, so while scrambling down we had to walk all stooped over. it was a difficult walk, and because of it, we are in some major pain today! to make matters worse, there’s absolutely nothing to see in there. but at the same time, it was quite a trip to be inside a pyramid. so eerie to be deep inside this massive 4000 year old structure. a bit freaky too. what if this one collapsed like some of the others had? yikes!! after the red pyramid, we only really got to take a quick glance from far off at the other pyramids here… but we did get to take a photo w/ some of the police on camels, heh.
on the way to giza, we stopped by a small village to pick up some koshari for lunch. we just chilled on the side of the road and ate it. oh, i almost forgot to mention. on the way in the morning, we got egypt’s version of “to go” coffee. when we stopped by a cafe, they had no togo cups and didnt understand why anypone would want togo cups. but we insistead that we were in a hurry. so they just made us regular cups of coffee, and then just had us drop the cups off on our way back! at one point when we stopped for gas, i was able to get a cool photo of an old man on the side of the road:
finally we arrived at giza. in typical middle eastern fashion, our taxi driver, instead of taking us to the main entrance, took us to some shady touts that we are sure must have paid him off. although we had a feeling that there might be something not right w/ this situation, we weren’t absolutely sure, so we ended up paying these guys for a camel ride combo that covered our entrance fee. what we realized soon enough, was that the guys actually pocketed the “entrance fee” and snuck us onto the grounds of the pyramids through a hole in the fence. after that, whenever we ran into a cop, they would bribe the cop. heh, looking back on it, it’s all really kinda funny. odd how things work around here, eh?
anyways, soon enough, caryn and i were on horses, and tara, sage, and david were on camels and we set off on our way. riding a horse around the area was really fun, especially when the guide would make the horses gallop really fast…although usually, we had to go slow so the camels could keep up. the pyramids themselves were so incredible. absolutely amazing. i was so utterly in awe of these huge ancient structures. one of the guys from the hotel had told us that the main pyramid at giza is the most perfect structure in the world. it is architecturally flawless. in comparison, modern structures like the eiffel tower or the empire state building have .6% and 1.4% architectural flaws respectively. i dunno, i just really can’t put down enough words to say just how psyched i was to be there at the pyramids. it was just too damn cool!
and still… that wasn’t even the end of our day. afterwards, we went back to cairo to go see a suffi dancing performance. suffi dancing is a religious dance where the dancers whirl and spin about to put themselves in a trance. we never did find out if this performance was really a religious dance, or just proffessional dancers dancing in that manner, but regardless it was really cool. the music they played was excellent as well. crazy super intense drumming etc.
all in all, this was one hell of a new years day. definitely one i’ll never forget!
here are the rest of the pyramid photos.